Growers using trickle irrigation under a spray licence need to register with the Environment Agency (EA) to formalise their historic right by the end of the year, following new legislation to end abstraction licence exemptions for trickle irrigation.
Paul Hammett, NFU water resources specialist says: “Those who have historically used trickle irrigation benefit from a transition arrangement, so as long as they can prove it, the EA will recognise that as a lawful right and growers can make an application to formalise this right.”
The NFU says evidence could include meter readings, pump ratings, invoices for equipment or photos of infrastructure.
Mr Hammett says some growers are at risk of being caught out because they have a spray irrigation licence which they think will suffice, but which does not cover the use of trickle irrigation.
He says: “Over the last few years we have seen an evolution in potato growing with spray irrigation methods gradually being replaced by trickle irrigation. Some growers mistakenly think because they already have a licence it is not a problem. However, they need to act in the same way as strawberry growers, for example, and still register their right to trickle irrigation.”
Mr Hammett urges growers to register their right as soon as possible ahead of the December 31 deadline for validated applications.
More information can be found at nfuonline.com